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Spring Rituals, Beliefs and Customs


The pagans celebrated spring each year,

for more than a thousand years before Jesus'birth,

indeed, long before Christianity made its official entrance.

They believed that spring was a time of renewal and fertility.

It represented new life and the resurrection of nature

 after the dead of winter. Spring festivals revived

various sexual rituals which honoured the sun's welcoming

and warming rays after the cold of winter

with its short daylight hours, snow and stormy nights.

Spring brought the promise of longer and

warmer days which offered life givng forces

and much need warmth.


The Name Easter


The Pagan goddess of spring and renewal is called Oestar,

 from the Scandinavian "Ostra"and the Teutonic "Ostern"or

 "Eastre" who were both Goddesses symbolizing

spring and fertility. These goddesses were honoured

on the vernal or spring equinox.

The Phoenicians called her Astarte.

 The Assyrians and Babylonians called her Ishtar

which is pronounced just as the Enlish word "Easter".

And in Europe she was known as Ostrara.


The EGG as Pagan Tradition


The pagans had the egg and the hare

as their symbols of spring renewal and fertility long ago.

 They had been through the long hard winter and

saw spring as a time of rebirth as the earth was emerging forth

 with new life. In truth, they even believed that the egg

had special powers and was put under the foundations of buildings

 to ward off evil. Pregnant Roman women carried an egg

as a talisman in the hope that it would tell them

the sex of their child yet to be born.


Man's relationship with the egg come from antiquity

and were deeply rooted. There is an old Latin proverb

which says, "Omne vivum ex ovo" which means, "all life comes

 from an egg. After all eggs are laid all over the world.

 There are myths all over the world that say

that the whole universe was created out of an egg.

 Eggs are and remain an emblem of life and

an allegory for rebirth.


During the pagan Spring festival, the eggs were coloured

with bright colours in attribute to the sunlight of spring.


The "Bunny" as a Pagan Custom


The hare and the rabbit were the most fertile animals

known during pagan times so of course they express

the idea of fertility and new life. Is it any wonder

why they came to be known as the figuration of fertility

in the spring when all of the plants and flowers

come to bear and flourish. Although both are certainly

considered representitives of fertility, it is the hare

 that was regarded as the real emblem because the ancients

saw the hare as symbol for the moon

which is another goddess symbol.



The ancient Egyptian name for the hare was 'un'

 which means 'open'. Also, legend indicates that the hare

never closes its eyes at all, and not even to blink,

thus remaining always open. The probable reason is that hares

 are born with their eyes open and rabbits are born blind.




Fertility was very important for the pagans as it was

the probagation of the spicies and a sign of prosperity.

 Both the hare and eggs are related

to the spring goddess Eostre of, you guessed it,

fertility. So she was very much revered.




During the transition period, some people were, as yet,

uncomfortable with this new "christian" way of belief

which in many cases was being convinced upon them

or forced on them with the penalty of death if one did not comply.


In the second century Christians began to see the parallel

to the pagan spring rituals and the resurrection of Christ.

More and more of the pagan customs became assimilated

into the Christian Easter celebrations.




Easter is the religious holiday commemorating

the resurrection of Jesus Christ who Christians believe

is the son of God. It is celebrated at the end of

the Lenten season which lasts for 46 days,

beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday.


The Thursday before Easter is called Holy Thursday

which commemorates the Last Supper Jesus had

with his disciples which was held the evening

before he was crucified. The next day, called Good Friday

is the anniversary of the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Holy Saturday is the "day of the entombed Christ".

It is a day of suspense between two worlds,

that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection,

thereby bringing the restoration of the Light to the World.


The Easter Vigil during this evening,

the time period between Good Friday and Easter Day

symbolizes the end of one world and

the complete newness of the era of salvation

inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

Easter Sunday is the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected

which is why this day is so important

to the Christian Church. It is considered

as one of the two most holiest days

of the Christian calendar.


Although early Christian Churches did not observe Easter,

it was eventually incorporated with much controversy

into the Christian calendar. However the followers

of Jewish origin continued to celebrate Passover

as did Jesus Christ with his disciples

during the Last Supper with the addition of a new custom

of drinking red wine and eating bread.

The Jewish Passover or Pesach which is derived from Pasch,

is another name used by Europeans for Easter

such as the Dutch word "Pasen" which means Easter.


Holy Water


The Easter Vigil includes a blessing of water

which is a sign of purification such as in baptism.

Water that has been ceremonially blessed

is a sacramental. Sacramentals are "sacred signs

which bear a resemblace to the sacraments

[by which the faithful are] given access

to the stream of divine grace which flows from

the paschal mystery of the passion, death, and resurrection

of Christ, the fountain from which all sacraments

and sacramentals draw their power."

[Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 60.

Second Vatican Council Documents]


Eggs for Christians


In the pagan religion, the egg typified

the rebirth of nature. With the advent of Christianity,

 the egg came to take on the allegory of

the rebirth of man as exemplified

by the rebirth of Jesus Christ. Likewise,

the Christians also compared the egg

to the tomb from which Christ rose.


Lighted Candles


Christ said, "I am the Light of the World…"

The Paschal candle represents Christ,

the Light of the World is made from pure beeswax.

This represents the sinless Christ

who was formed in the womb of His Mother.

The wick signifies His humanity,

the flame, His Divine Nature, both soul and body.

Five grains of incense inserted into the candle

in the form of a cross recall the aromatic spices

with which His Sacred Body was prepared for the tomb,

and of the five wounds in His hands, feet, and side.


Easter Bunny


The bunny symbol first hopped on the scene

in the 1500s as it was mentioned for the first time

in German writings. In the early 1800s edible Easter bunnies

 were made in Germany and were made of sugar and pastry.

 Later bunnies were made from chocolate and in some places

put into baskets with chocolate EGGS.


The hare probably became a symbol of Easter

because the official date for Easter is established

by the moon. The moon is considered by many goddess religions

 as a symbol for woman. May I reiterate here

the importance of the hare by the pagans

as a part of the spring ritual which symbolized fertility.


The Date of Easter


In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine

determined that Easter should be

on the first full moon of spring which begins

with the spring equinox on March 21st. In this way Easter

 became a mobile feastday with the possibility of occurring

at the earliest March 22nd or at the latest April 25th.

 The churches of the west followed this date.

 However the churches of the east which felt closer

 to the birth of this new religion and held on strongly

 to the old traditions, choose to celebrate Easter

during Passover. Passover after all was observed by Jesus

 as he was still Jewish and never told anyone

that he was interested in any other religion.

He also never talked about starting a new religion.

 He did introduce a new way of thinking

and being within his own religion.


There were many believers of Jewish background

who had received the knowledge of Christ

with all sincerity and they continued to follow

His example and partook in the Passover

on Nisan 14 each year.


Personal Choice


No matter which spiritual customs and traditions

you choose to follow, may it be

special, sacred and joyful.




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